This Week In Hot Takes Feb 16

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! Everyone has a fiery take these days; here are some of the hottest from sports media figures for the week of Feb. 10 – 16.

5. Andy Furman says Brandon Phillips was Reds’ best second baseman:

A certain Mr. Joe Morgan would like a word.

Rating: **

4. Skip Bayless says Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder was worse than LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers:

This one feels like a hot take spawned of recency. It’s harder to remember the reactions to James’ decision now we’re seven years past it.

Rating: ***

3. Clay Travis says “Nobody cares about UConn’s 100 straight wins”:

Saying you don’t like women’s basketball is one thing, but spending two minutes ranting about how no one likes it is something else. And arguing that UConn’s streak “speaks to the weakness and the lack of depth of the sport” is a fiery take, one that many smart writers like USA Today‘s Nancy Armour have debunked. Armour’s argument that “Any criticism of Connecticut’s winning streak says more about the folks griping than it does the Huskies” seems particularly relevant to Travis’ commentary here.

2. JT The Brick thinks athletes should go to the White House “to represent your boss”: This one’s got quite a lot going on. Here’s the clip:

We need a full transcription here to really illustrate it:

“I think that everybody should go to the White House if invited. Because two reasons, it’s a tremendous moment, you’re a champion. You’re getting an opportunity to represent your boss, let me repeat, your boss. Because your owner and your team is going to the White House. You really want to step out? Okay, then, how political are you? How political are you that you’re not going to the White House? On a scale of one to ten, are you a two? If you’re a seven or an eight or a nine and you really care about political issues…I’m not a fan of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem, but if he wants to stay away from the White House, I’ve got respect for him. Not because he took a knee, I hate that, I despise that, I don’t like that, but he’s really political. So if you’re just an outside linebacker and you get invited to the White House once in your life, maybe twice, and you can’t show up and break bread with the President of the United States?”

“You have to respect other people’s decisions. If you don’t want to go to a certain establishment, restaurant, you don’t want to go to a political function, we all need to respect what other people are doing, but we have the right with professional athletes, who make money professionally entertaining us, questioning them. Just like Hollywood on the red carpet, just like the Grammys, Busta Rhymes last night who said President Agent Orange and all that, we have the right to question their decisions, and then not buy their records, or pay to go to their movies, or watch them play football. We all have the right to do that.”

“I just think a lot of athletes have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re just going to stay away because they’re going to stay away. How many of them can get really deep on the issues, why they’re going to stay away? If they can, round of applause for all of them if they’re that deep. I just think some of them are just like I don’t get it, I don’t like this, I don’t want to go there, it’s going to make me look bad. Going to the White House is a good thing, because you just won a bleeping championship and your coach and your boss is going to be there.”

Saying he thinks athletes should go is fine, and so is the general point about it being easier to support an athlete who was previously outspoken (although blasting those who haven’t previously spoken out feels a bit silly; they can’t start here?, but the stuff about “represent your boss” and “we have the right to question their decisions” feels very patriarchal and unmerited. And athletes “have no idea what they’re talking about,” really?

Rating: ****

1. Stephen A. Smith on O.J. Simpson: “I firmly believe O.J. Simpson should spend the rest of his life in prison. Because he’s an idiot, that’s why!”

The base take here of being against O.J. Simpson’s parole isn’t all that uncommon, but the way Smith builds on it in this rant is quite something. “I firmly believe that you killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman! I firmly believe that you laughed in the face of the system! You mocked it! And instead of having the decency to walk away because the trial was turned into something else thanks to the greatness of Johnnie Cochran and the ineptitude of Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, the bottom line is you had an opportunity, an ideal opportunity, to chill out, walk away, go on with your life.” He goes on for a while from there, and it gets heated at 1:11, culminating in a personal challenge to Simpson:

“But when YOU are an individual that was on trial for double murder, that I believe got off by the way, and you still don’t have the decency and the common sense not to stare the system in the face and give it the proverbial middle finger, YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET! And as far as I’m concerned, that’s exactly what it is. And I hear in the prison, in the prison that he’s in outside of Reno, Nevada, that they actually watch ESPN. I hope he’s watching me right now! That man brought all of this on himself! He didn’t know any better, he was an idiot, finding himself in another predicament, he put it on himself, and he deserves what he’s getting!”

The starting idea of Simpson not deserving parole isn’t particularly flammable, but the way Smith turns this into a two-minute rant about Simpson’s intelligence and the trial and the way he personally challenges Simpson with “I hope he’s watching!” adds to the heat level in a big way.

Rating: *****

Hot Take Standings:
Clay Travis – 46
Stephen A. Smith – 43
Skip Bayless – 37
Phil Mushnick – 27
Shannon Sharpe – 20
JT The Brick – 15
Don Cherry – 11
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Doug Gottlieb – 8
Ray Lewis – 7
Charles Barkley – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Rob Parker – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Colin Cowherd – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Doug Gottlieb – 5
C.J. Nitkowski – 5
Frank Isola – 5
FanSided – 4
Cris Carter – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Jeff Mans – 3
Danny Kanell – 3
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 3
Chris Broussard – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Dan Dakich – 3
Michael DeCourcy – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Bob Ryan – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me here.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.